Name change proposed for Free Church College

The Free Church College should be renamed the Edinburgh Theological Seminary to generate interest within wider evangelical church circles and show Gospel-work co-operation, the General Assembly will hear next week.

The College Board report believes its identity is too tied in with the denomination, and the change would make the College “a more national theological institution into which several like-minded churches could feed”.

Under the draft plans, outside bodies would be invited to provide funding or teaching staff, which would result in greater and wider academic input as well as a more diverse vision for future training needs.

Consultation on a name change would also have to take place with the UK Border Agency, as well as the University of Glasgow – who validate the BA and Masters degree programmes.

The College would continue to remain Britain’s only avowedly confessional theological institution.

The report says: “We live in a world where science has replaced religion and scholarship has opposed the veracity of the Bible.

“Such opposition has filtered down to the masses who now believe that modern academia and advanced science have disproved the Bible.

“How are ministers, missionaries and evangelists to evangelise in such a world if not by thoroughly acquainting themselves with these same issues?

“Furthermore, how are converts to be grounded in the scriptures if their ministers are not?”

The College Board also wishes to make greater use of part-time lecturers and modern technology to reduce costs – acknowledging the challenging financial circumstances in the denomination and its reduced budget.

It adds that the College would need to provide additional courses of a less academic and more practical nature to cater for church planters, evangelists and apprentices, as well as its current provision for ministers.

There is also news of an exciting new online course, a Diploma in Christian Youthwork, and the College continues to attract more than 100 students onto its part-time Saturday course.

The College Board paid tribute to retiring Principal John L Mackay, who also held the Chair of Old Testament.

It said: “The Board would like to put on record their deep sense of gratitude for the outstanding and unswerving commitment which Professor Mackay has given to the Free Church College since his induction in 1983.

“The College owes its current reputation as a centre of theological excellence to the kind of scholarship which he developed, applied and disseminated within his department.

“We wish Principal Mackay and his wife, Mary well in retirement and look forward perhaps to more of his high quality publications which have proved to be of such value.”

Nominations for the two respective vacant roles will be contained in a supplementary report, which has yet to be released.